Another Good Way To Break The Pattern
Earlier this week, I wrote about the importance of “breaking the pattern” when delivering a presentation.
That post discussed what you can do as a speaker to change your delivery approach frequently in order to maintain and regain your audience’s attention. But that article focused solely on the contrast you can provide during your own presentation—and there’s another key way to break the pattern that occurs when you’re speaking at a conference or multi-speaker workshop.
Before planning your own presentation at a conference, get a feel for the “default” speaking style most speakers plan to use. Hold a conference call with other speakers. Start an email chain. Talk to the conference planner.
Then, look for ways to break the default pattern.
Here are a few examples of providing a contrast between yourself and other speakers:
- If other speakers plan on using PowerPoint, consider going without it (or at least keep the screen dark for the first several minutes).
- If other speakers put complex technical information on the screen, consider handing out a well-designed one-page handout instead. Give the audience a few minutes to take in the content (they won’t be able to hear you until they’ve digested your content anyway), and then add context to the handout they just read.
- If other speakers will deliver their presentations from behind a lectern, request a lavaliere microphone and speak in front of the stage.
- If other speakers are dressed in business attire but your professional or personal brand is more business casual, dress in a manner consistent with your own brand (assuming, of course, that doing so would be appropriate to the occasion).
- If other speakers plan on taking audience questions only after they finish their prepared remarks, consider allowing questions and interacting with the audience throughout your presentation.
Doing something that breaks convention takes some boldness and courage. But the payoff for speakers who choose smart ways to stand out from their “competition”—and the battle to earn the audience’s long-term memory is competition—can be huge.
What are your favorite “pattern breakers?” Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
Other ideas for breaking the pattern are to play music before the session starts, create a hashtag for your speech, take a live audience poll with text-to-vote, and connect with audience members by learning their names and using them in your examples.
Make at least part of your presentation interactive. It’s a great way to keep your audience engaged. The trick is to ask relevant questions you’re sure audience members will have an opinion or insight about. You can embellish their answers with your own messages.